Everyone’s talking. Do you know who’s talking about you? No, I don’t mean the customer who has bothered to take time out of their day to tag you online.
I’m talking those off-the-cuff mentions online whether that’s in a Facebook comment, tweet or a forum post. These conversations can be hard to detect, but the best resources. Here are unfiltered, honest opinions ready to be turned into customer insights.
That’s why social listening should always be a part of your digital marketing strategy
What does social listening mean?
I’ve already mentioned conversations. In the simplest terms, social listening is about keeping your ear out to catch what they’re saying. It’s the same as if you overhear customers speak about your brick-and-mortar shop or food stand within earshot. However, it’s the Internet and you’re going through all possible online hangouts to hear what they’re saying about you.
As a process, social listening follows three major steps. First you need to track social mentions by using keywords, both branded and non-branded, to find out where these conversations are taking place. Then you proceed with an analysis. What’s the sentiment? Are they satisfied? What are the things they love? Lastly, adapt to the feedback and most importantly, respond to conversations!
Why is it important to understand your customers?
Helps you identify their needs
Listen to your customers and you’ll soon know well enough what they want and what they need. It’s like having a focus group sit down and have discussions about a new product, but in a way more organic manner.
If you’re able to find any unboxing or non-sponsored review on YouTube, that’s one way to get valuable insight. What works? What doesn’t? What can be better? What should be a feature?
Helps you track what people talk about
Aside from their direct needs as they relate to the product, social listening identifies what makes your audience tick. What are the topics that interest them? What are their values?
We’re in the age of corporate social responsibility. Brands are aligning themselves with positions regarding what’s going on in society and social causes. It’s not only a meaningful way to engage with socially conscious customers, but also brings to the foreground what sort of content would do well with your target audience.
Helps you keep track of your performance
Social listening works with data – social mentions being a big part. As a result, it becomes really hard to draw your conclusions about how you’re performing online. Although it’s a bit tricky to gage accurately overall, this comes in handy when you apply it to short-term campaigns. You can easily capture quantitative metrics – how many times you’re tagged, how many people use your hashtag and how many people mention your product.
These then become your benchmarks for future campaigns. Find out what works and what leaves you alone in a field hearing crickets. My general advice is to also find out the days with the biggest spike in social interactions and identify what generated the buzz.
Helps you identify trends
Social listening as a whole is about zooming out and seeing the bigger picture. Things become a lot clearer, when you put some distance, and notice the patterns. You’ll see this is the way people talk about your niche as well as what journalists discuss in trade publications. You can see how a certain new market segment forms and those with enough of a sense to move with the times can get in on early. Just take a look at how quickly businesses and book publishers have taken to using TikTok as a vehicle to sell products.
What tools to use for social listening?
There’s a whole genre for applications and services, which handle social media listening. They’re built for the purpose of scanning high and low for social mentions of your brand as well as keep an eye out on general trends within your industry. They’re specialized, professional and used by bigger companies to meet their needs, which is another stamp of approval.
Falcon is one of the top examples on the market. Its main appeal is the fact that it handles every single process – social media listening, publishing, advertising, measurement, and customer data analysis. What’s truly impressive about Falcon is that it has the capability to understand multiple languages and then break down social sentiment into positive, neutral and negative. Kind of like a barometer.
Another popular choice is Sprout Social, because it combines social CRM tools and social media listening with social media management and optimization. It becomes increasingly easy to get your social media strategy off the ground. The dashboard is user friendly and also uses algorithms to make suggestions on what you should do next. Perhaps one of its most cherished features is its Smart Inbox, which allows you to run all correspondence on social media through a single place.
However, professional social listening tools are a bit pricey. If you’re new and don’t have the budget for it, paying roughly $100 per month (average plan) might be out of the question. Brand24 is an exception as it’s created a package especially for smaller businesses, which costs $49 per month.
On the more affordable side, you have RSS feed readers. Yes, RSS feed readers have made the big jump into professional business tools and are just as adept at handling social media listening. The top readers Feedly, Inoreader, Netvibes, ReviewTrackers and Feeder all have business capabilities that allow you to listen to what’s being said about you online, do research and organize your digital sources.
Take for example Inoreader. It’s one of the RSS feed readers with the most features ranging from a well-developed content discovery zone and a well-rounded Chrome extension to integration with IFTTT and one of the best filters on the market today. With a little bit of setting up and creativity, it can perform just as well as one of the social media listening tools.